Belgium visa application experience

Hello folks,

This is written by an Indian who applied for Belgium visa to study MS in electrical engineering at KU Leuven. When I got admit from the university little did I know that Belgium visa is such a long and convoluted process.

I searched online first to find out the visa process which stunned me and I exclaimed “Is this humanly possible?”. I was in denial first and then reality sunk in and I tried to find out past experience of other people. I could only find one edulix link from 3 years ago and nothing else. Though it helped a lot I still had many more doubts. I badly wanted more such posts by people who have got type-D visas. I understand that not many apply for Belgium visa and probably that is reason why there is so little help available online. But there are people going through this process every year and they all need help. So I decided that when I get my visa I will write a blog on this highly complex process to help others. Here it goes..

First thing you will hear when you hear Belgium visa is something called Apostillation. This crazy sounding word will actually drive you crazy. An apostille is simply a sticker stuck behind original documents stating that it is original !! OK the fun just begins here. Any document that needs to be apostilled needs to be attested at the back by the issuing authority. Then it needs to be attested by state government. Finally it needs to be apostilled by “Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India”. Yes you read it right. Any aam aadmi in India knows what it takes to get a signature from anyone in government and here we are talking about state and central governments.

All right here are the documents that needs to be apostilled:

  1. Degree certificate
  2. Police clearance certificate(PCC)

I will come to PCC in a while but first how to get degree certificate apostilled. You can go by the process I just mentioned which is basically get your original degree certificate attested from your university then by ministry of human resource development of state government and then by MEA Govt. of India. OR you can go to VFS-global office and pay around Rs 6000 and they will do this near humanly impossible work for you! Trust me Rs 6000 is worth it. They will give you bills as well for the money you pay. I went by VFS and got it in a week. Good lord above knows how long it takes if you go by yourself.

Now to get PCC there are two ways. I got it from passport seva kendra. You take your passport and admission letter to PSK after scheduling an appointment. If they feel like giving you PCC they will give you immediately else they will put a police enquiry and then they will give you. I got it immediately. Now take this to VFS and they will give get it apostilled. Since PSK gives it in the name of MEA it can be directly apostilled(some mercy here) so you need not spend Rs. 6000. It costs a few hundreds. And you get it within a week. I don’t know the process to get PCC from Commissioner of Police office so I won’t comment.

Now you need Medical certificate(MC). Here is the list which gives you list of certified doctors who can give it. I got it done in Bangalore at St. Johns Hospital. They take blood, urine and stool samples on first day. On second day after reports come back they do a general health check up and give you a certificate. You need your passport xerox and 2 passport size photos. And costs around Rs.3000. OK similar to Apostille you need a legalization from Belgium embassy for this MC. You can take MC to VFS belgium and they will get it done for you for a small fee.

Coming to the financial part. There are 3 ways(if I remember right) to prove you have enough money to stay and study in Belgium. I used blocked account transfer process(don’t know about other processes) to prove your finances. Basically you contact university(one who sent you admission letter) and get details of how much money and bank account to transfer money. You need to transfer that money by going to your branch and giving them admission letter and passport photocopy. Of course money needs to be in your account! Then once money is transferred you give this receipt to university and they give you a certificate stating that you will receive the (amount you transferred)/12 every month for 12 months. This proves you have enough money to spend for 1 year during your study.

Don’t forget to ask university to send your admission letter and financial proof certificate to the embassy/consulate where you are applying for visa. I applied from VFS Bangalore and they send documents to Mumbai consulate.

Now there is something called additional contribution fee that you need to pay. I paid EUR160. For this again go to bank and transfer it. They will ask you for passport copy and this website printout. You need to submit this receipt with your application.

After all this you are ready to file application. Fill up two applications and submit

  1. degree certificate
  2. PCC
  3. MC
  4. additional contribution fee receipt
  5. admission letter
  6. finance proof
  7. passport

with 2 sets of photocopies at vfs centers. You have to pay around Rs.13000 for visa application fee. Ufff. You think you are done?! wait.. one small twist. You may be called for an interview. I have no clue who gets called but in case you are called you will have to go to Mumbai or Delhi. Thankfully I got visa without interview so don’t know what they will ask.

Indian bureaucracy is excruciatingly slow(some say almost non functional) and when this clashes with complex requirements from Belgium there are bound to be fireworks!! But we as Indians know how to get work done from Indian authorities. I have removed lot of details about “back and forth roaming around” that I had to do at every stage I mentioned but we Indians know it without mentioning. One thing though I didn’t have to bribe anyone even if I had to go to various places multiple times with multiple documents to get the work done and I think it is sign of Indian progress.

Hope this helps future students going to Belgium from India. Please keep blogging your experience as well so that future students continue to get latest information.

All that is real

All that is real is so cruel.
All that is real is so cruel.

He entered his home only to find his son crying,
refusing to eat even the tastiest pudding.
He asked his son for the reason,
causing gloom in a beautiful summer season.

Son cried louder with all his strength,
as if, the answer lied in his weeping breath.
“I lost dad, I can never win”, son finally revealed,
slowly acknowledging his shameful deed.

“Son, you will win for sure, have no fear”
he said, “because I’m here with you forever”.
He knew well that he couldn’t change the reality,
but his words comforted his son in anxiety.

Son picked up the pudding, believing in his dad,
rejoicing the pleasant and forgetting the bad.
He wished his world was as simple as his son’s,
problems getting solved in matter of seconds.

But unlike his son he had built a mansion,
and he wasn’t allowed to cry like his son.
His fault was that he understood what is real,
and in this unforgiving world, everything is real.

All that is real is so cruel.
All that is real is so cruel.

-Kushal D Murthy

The Last Line

This is a short drama fiction and as always it has more than what meets the eye:

“Honey”, she said.
“Hmm..”
“Can that coconut fall on us?”

Everything that could have gone wrong, had gone wrong. Of course they had prepared for the worst but how do you find out the worst from the comforts of your living room? We mortals can only prepare for the worst that we can think of, not for the real worst that could happen. Even if we find it and prepare for it, what is the guarantee that we will be able to pull off the plan? Well that is life. Sometime it just takes the path it wants to take no matter how hard we try to lead it according to our desires.

It was their dream. They had dreamt it together. After a long five years of courtship Lvan had proposed Thalvia for marriage. They had a lot in common, including their passion for adventure. A life-death situation had brought these two strangers together. He had heard a voice calling for help while he was camping on the banks of a river. She had crashed on to a rock while rafting and she was bleeding profusely. Then, he had instinctively saved her. Their passion had brought them close and their passion had strongly united them. During their long dating period they had found out more commonalities between them. It was as though their destiny had planned all these details before sending them on earth.

Naturally they wanted to spend their first few married days differently, rather, they wanted to spend it on the edge. As per their request the day they got married they were sedated and taken to a forest by their adventure loving friends. They had left them in the forest with a map, knife, food, lighter, camping materials and water. The fail proof was an impermeable box with GPS and an SOS button. In case they weren’t able to find their way back home or in case they got into any danger all they had to do was to press that SOS button and they would be rescued.

Everything was hunky dory for first three days. They were able to follow the map pretty well and they were confident that they will be able to find their way back home. Then everything started to fall apart. While crossing a river Lvan had lost his back-pack due to strong currents. Unfortunately the SOS box was inside the bag that got washed away and he was hurt. They weren’t weighed down by this tragedy, after all they lived for experiencing this kind of situation. They kept following the map optimistically with the remaining provisions. However the reality caught up with them within two days after the tragedy. They were running low on provisions and their pace was hampered by Lvan’s injury. Slowly they begin to realise that neither of them will be able to get home if they continued like this.

Tonight they took shelter under a coconut tree. Lvan’s mind was full of thoughts. He just wanted to survive. He played with death all his life but when the time came for him to embrace it he wanted to escape from it. He knew that he was hurt, he knew that they were running out of provisions, he knew that it was possible for only one of them to get home with the remaining resources and he knew that Thalvia had better chances than him as she was uninjured. But he wanted to live even if it meant that he will have to kill Thalvia. After all he had saved her earlier, she would have died long ago if it was not for his timely rescue. And in forest no one would ever get to know about what he did to her.

“Honey”, she said.
“Hmm..”
“Can that coconut fall on us?”
“…”

His thoughts were interrupted. He suddenly realised how low he had stooped. No, it wasn’t love that changed his mind. Love was dead the moment he thought about killing her. It was far more simpler than love. It was the last line that separated humans from animals which stopped him from killing her. He decided to just walk away from her when she fell asleep and let her live.

After a while he felt it was time for him to leave her. Suddenly he felt a sharp pain in his stomach. He opened his eyes. She was right on top of him and she was crying. He touched his stomach but he couldn’t identify if it was a coconut or a stone. He was quickly losing his consciousness. He tried to read her face. Was it shock or was it guilt? He could no longer differentiate between the two.

Can you live in a Fractional Dimension? – II

To quote Anthony Liccione, “A mind is not weighed by its magnitude, but by the dimensions of its thoughts”. Of course, it’s not the same dimension I am going to talk about here but the spirit of the statement is a desirable dimension (pun intended). Hope you have read the first half of this post. No? never mind just keep reading 🙂 . I will do my best to answer the question posed in the simplest form. To start of, think about a line segment like this

Straight_LineIf you double the length of this line then you will get 2 copies of the line segment. Okay, consider a square as shown in the figure. sqAgain, double the sides of the square. Now, you get 4 copies of the original square. I know, by now you would have extended this logic to a cube and figured out that 8 copies come out by doubling the length of each side of a cube. Okay, summary:

Line: 2 = 2^1 (2 to the power of 1)

Square: 4 = 2^2

Cube: 8 = 2^3

It is very easy to notice that the last numbers (exponents) are the number of dimensions in which these figures exist. In fact this is one of the definitions of dimension called Hausdorff dimension. Quite a cool definition actually. Of course, the definition I just gave is not totally correct in mathematical sense but for explanation, good enough. Have you heard about this amazing convoluted triangle called the Sierpinski gasket shown below? As you can see there is a regular and conspicuous pattern exhibited by the Sierpinski gasket, recurring all the way to infinity. Some of you would recognize this instantly as a fractal which, of course, is a bigger collection of objects having the same properties – regular and conspicuous pattern recurring all the way to infinity. There is a reason these structures are called fractals and I am going to explain you just that. Look back at the structure below.

Now, let’s double each side of this triangle.

If you observe closely you get 3 copies of the original triangle not 4. The implication of this is captured in this equation:

2^d = 3
Where d is the dimension in which the Sierpinski gasket live.  A quick evaluation puts d at 1.5849… which is a fraction……. fraction….. frac….. fractals?! It’s true the name fractals was coined because these closed figures exist in a fractional dimension. After ‘how’, some may ask ‘why’ fractional dimension? Because, Self-Similarity. Period. Remember Cantor Set from the previous post, yes even that falls under the category of fractals. There is an inherent redundancy (Self-Similarity) in fractal formation and even a rudimentary knowledge in set theory will tell you that sets don’t contain repeated elements which is exactly the reason that leads to non-integer dimensions. There are some beautiful fractals which, I think, I am obliged to share here.

 

Are there any fractals in nature? Oh, yes. The famous 1967 paper “How Long Is the Coast of Britain? Statistical Self-Similarity and Fractional Dimension” puts the dimension of Britain’s coastline at 1.25. Intriguing? What about this one:  each branch of a cauliflower carries around 13 branches, each 3 times smaller. This renders the dimension of a cauliflower to 2.33.

So, do you live in a fractional dimension? At least your brain surface does. The Hausdorff dimension of the surface of the brain is at 2.79 and that of the lung surface is 2.97. If such an essential organs can, then why not the whole body surface? Yes, it is possible but there is a key ingredient which is missing, remember, Self-Similarity. So one can safely claim that the dimension of our body is 3 (integer) in the conventional sense. Too bad, I know.

In summary, you can but you don’t live in a fractional dimension but if you desire to, ask this guy.